Amy Buric (foreground), of the Riverside Library’s Information Services department, and Steph Schulte, a Children and Youth Services staffer, shelve books on June 29 in preparation for the reopening of the renovated lower-level children’s area on July 6. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The Riverside Public Library, 1 Burling Road, will close briefly this week in anticipation of fully reopening – including the newly renovated lower level – on July 6.

The library building was slated to be closed from June 29 through July 2 in order for staff to move materials into their proper places following the 10-month, $1.5 million renovation of the lower level, which houses Youth Services, the genealogy research center, public meeting room and staff offices.

Curbside pickup services will still be available while the library is closed, but reference and reader’s advisory services will not be. You can request to pick up materials curbside at 708-442-6366, ext. 109.

Early learners, children and teens now have their own separate areas in the lower level and all adult library materials will be located on the upper level. The public meeting room can now be divided to accommodate more than one program at a time.

Library officials had intended to christen the lower level in April, but a requirement to install fire sprinklers in the newly renovated area delayed cutting the ribbon on the project, which was made possible when voters approved a construction bond issue in March 2020.

(Bob Uphues/Editor)

The plan had been in the works, however, for many years, beginning in 2013 when the library board hired a space planner to study the lower level. The final design for the lower level was unveiled by the library board in 2017.

While the board attempted to raise the necessary funds through special events and donations, they agreed in 2019 to go directly to voters, who overwhelmingly supported the bond issue.

For the past 10 months, the Great Room had been converted into the children’s department, and some adult materials had to be relocated to other parts of the upper level. In addition to moving all of those materials back into their proper places, the phone system needs to be installed in the lower level this week.

“I’m exhilarated,” said library Director Janice Foley. “The patrons have been great, but cramping everyone into the upstairs was not ideal. I can see now why they wanted to build the addition in 1984.”

When the library reopens its doors at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6 it will more or less resume normal operations. The hours will continue to be Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Face coverings will continue to be required for anyone visiting the lower level, since vaccinations are not yet available to children. The library board at a special meeting called for July 1 was expected to consider lifting the mask mandate for visitors staying on the upper level.